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A Teacher's Guide

Oceans and Seas


Begin your study of Oceans and Seas by Nicola Davies with a discussion with the children on what they know about the ocean. Questions can include the following:
  • Where are the oceans?

  • Why is the earth sometimes called a big blue marble?

  • What animals live in the ocean? (compile a list)

  • How deep is the ocean?

As the children give their answers, create a KWL chart to keep track of the many things they know and would like to know about the oceans and seas. As the class reads the book, refer back to the KWL chart and add new things they learn.

Sample KWL Chart:

Oceans and Seas
What we know about oceans
What we would like to learn about oceans
What we learned about oceans
The ocean is salty.

Why is ocean water salty?

Rivers wash salt from the land into the oceans and seas.

    Language Arts:
    • Generates questions about topics of interest.
    • Uses a variety of sources to gather information.
    • Makes contributions in class and group discussions.
    • Relates new information to prior knowledge and experience.

Highlighted vocabulary words can be found along the bottom of many of the pages in the book. Here are additional words from the text that you should focus on:

plankton (page 7)
landscape (page 10)
tides (page 13)
El Niño (page 15)
coral reef (page 26)
droughts (page 15)
food chain (page 24)
slaughter (page 38)
kelp (page 24)
camouflage (page 32)

Several terms are referred to in the book but not named directly. You should include them in your discussions:
Our suggestions on how to use these words effectively are found on page 2 of the guide.

    Language Arts:
    • Uses word reference materials to determine the meaning and pronunciation of unknown words.
    • Uses a variety of context clues to decode unknown words.

Science/Art Project

The Dead Sea, on the borders of Israel and Jordan, is so salty that mounds of salt are left on the shoreline where the water evaporates. The following activity demonstrates the effects of evaporation of saltwater.

Painting with Saltwater

Materials needed:
  • Quart mixing container
  • Table salt
  • Warm water
  • Food coloring
  • Paint cups
  • Paintbrushes
  • Watercolor art paper
  • Mixing spoon
  • Fill the quart mixing container with about 24 ounces of warm water.

  • Slowly add the table salt to the water, constantly stirring to enable the salt to dissolve.

  • When no more salt will dissolve into the water, set the mixture aside and let it cool.

  • Carefully decant the saltwater solution into the paint cups, making sure that any salt crystals at the bottom of the mixing container do not get into the cups.

  • Add a few drops of food coloring to each paint cup, and the children are ready to paint.

  • Have them paint ocean and seascape pictures with their saltwater paints.

  • Ask the children to hypothesize about what will happen to their paintings when the paint dries.

  • When the pictures are dry, have the children examine them carefully and record what they observe.

  • Based on what they observe and what they know, they should draw a conclusion about what happened.

  • Have the children write paragraphs about the experience. The paragraph should reflect what they did, what they observed, and the reasons for the results.

    • Understands the nature of scientific inquiry.
    • Knows that learning can come from careful observations and simple experiments.
    • Keeps a notebook that describes observations made.
    • Knows that matter has different states.
    • Knows that most of the earth is covered with water.

    Visual Arts:
    • Uses visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.
    • Knows the different kinds of media, techniques, and processes that are used to create works of art.

Letter Writing

After reading Oceans and Seas, your students will be aware that the ocean and many of the animals that live in it are threatened by careless treatment by people. For a class project, have the class draft a letter imploring their elected officials to do more to protect the ocean environment. Brainstorm with the students about what they would include in the letter.

Sample start:

    Our class has been learning about the oceans and the seas as part of our science study. We learned that oil spills and sewage are killing marine life . . .
Each child should sign his or her name to the letter. Copies can be sent to their members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to local newspapers and radio and TV reporters.

    Language Arts/Writing:
    • Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.

    Social Studies:
    • Understands that he or she is a member of the community.
    • Contributes to the well-being of the community.

Activity Sheet

Sea Life and the Ocean Scramble:

Mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, and plants are all a part of oceans and seas. Have fun with your class identifying some of them. On the left side is a brief description of a sea life. On the right side is the name of the sea life scrambled up. Have the children unscramble the letters to reveal what animal or plant it is. (We've provided page references to help them along.)

Large plant-eating ocean mammal that is also called a sea cow (page 21)
gun dog

Fish that is called a living fossil because it was thought to be extinct (page 16)
catch one l

A sea bird that travels over 15,000 miles each year (page 23)
can critter

A fish that can camouflage itself as a piece of seaweed (page18)
read a song

The main food of the humpback whale (page 31)
kill r

Feeds on sea urchins and likes to rest on a bed of kelp (page 29)
tea store

Mammals known to be a danger to all the animals in the sea (page 38)
sun ham

Five million of them can be found in one nestling area (page 32)
gun snipe

Big ocean predator (page 18)
lush baker

It's at the bottom of a long food chain (page 25)
top lank n

Sea Life and the Ocean Scramble answers:

sea otter
Arctic tern
sea dragon
blue shark

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